State tournament participant Hughes Springs, regional finalist Carthage and a host of area teams open the 2018 softball playoffs this weekend with hopes of punching their ticket to the UIL State Softball Tournament May 30-June 2 in Austin.

CLASS 5A

■ Hallsville, a 32-game winner a year ago, opens a best-of-three series against Royse City at 6:30 p.m. tonight in Hallsville. The series moves to Royse City on Friday for a 6:30 p.m. game, and a third game — if needed — is set for noon on Saturday in Sulphur Springs.

Hallsville is led at the plate by Lorena Ramirez, who his hitting .535 with 25 RBI. Taylor Freeman is a .438 hitter with three home runs and 28 RBI, while Maddie Melton has three home runs and Lauren Anderson is hitting .440 with a pair of home runs and 20 RBI. Jaydin Ainsworth (11-6, 2.91 ERA, 54 strikeouts) and Melton (12-8, 3.24 ERA, 51 strikeouts) handle the pitching chores for Hallsville.

CLASS 4A

■ Kilgore, in the playoffs for the first time since 2008, meets No. 1 ranked Carthage, which advanced to the regional finals for the first time in school history in 2017, in a one-game format at 7 p.m. tonight at Marshall High School.

Kilgore is paced offensively by Bailey Downing (.524, 10 RBI, 20 stolen bases), Kristen Wilson(.413, 8 RBI) and Mackenzie Harrison (.404, 14 RBI). Hailee Jo Lewis has driven in 12 runs and is a .305 hitter.

Wilson is 9-10 inside the circle with a 1.50 ERA and 113 strikeouts in 121 innings.

Carthage has a lineup that boasts five .400 hitters, led by Carson Robertson (.480, 9 HR, 43 RBI). Karsyn Isbell is hitting .462 with two home runs and 25 RBI, Kayman Courtney .430 with four home runs, 30 RBI and 31 stolen bases, Roo Harrison .441 with 22 RBI, Addison Blissett .422 with 19 RBI and 13 stolen bases and Hope Kruebbe .382 with 21 RBI and 22 stolen bases.

Taylor Wills is 18-3 inside the circle with a 1.75 ERA and 173 strikeouts in 108 innings. Isbell is 6-1 with a 1.09 ERA.

■ Henderson meets Gladewater at 6 p.m. tonight at Pine Tree in a one-game format.

Henderson is paced offensively by Madeline Wells (.395), Milee Green (.373), Maggi Dickerson (.354) and Katelyn Odom (.370, 2 HR, 18 RBI). Kaylie Clark has two home runs and 16 RBI.

Wells is 15-6 as a pitcher with 122 strikeouts and a 2.49 ERA.

Gladewater is paced by the duo of Murphy Williams (.532, 7 HR, 34 RBI) and Zoie Pilgrim (.533, 10 HR, 28 RBI) at the plate. Caitlyn Mackey (17 RBI), Graci Hart (13 RBI) and Lily Cahal (11 RBI) are all solid run producers, and Williams (172 strikeouts, 1.50 ERA) will handle the pitching chores for Gladewater.

■ Gilmer and Rusk will play a best-of-three series, all at Whitehouse, with games set for 6 p.m. today and 10 a.m. on Saturday.

Madeline Barber is a .418 hitter with three home runs and 27 RBI and also leads East Texas in strikeouts (240) to go along with a 1.97 ERA. Robin Jackson (.375) and Madie McCurry (.349) are other top hitters for the Lady Buckeyes.

CLASS 3A

■ New Diana takes on Troup in a one-game format at 6 p.m. tonight at Longview’s Lear Park.

New Diana is balanced on offense with Brooklynn Manes (.416, 2 HR, 23 RBI), Haley Manns (2 HR, 12 RBI), Heather Zook (.453, 28 RBI), Joelle Newton (.400), Kloe Meador (.534, 27 RBI), Kylie Easterling (.375), Madi Brown (.425, 6 HR, 22 RBI) and Rebecca Bates (.425) all capable of doing damage.

Zook (14-0, 163 strikeouts, 0.42 ERA) and Newton (5-0, 0.72 ERA) are the Eagles’ top pitchers.

Troup is paced by freshman Heidi Hardy (.342, 4 HR, 16 RBI) and senior Alyssa Hearon (.426, 21 RBI) at the plate. Tayler Vance (8-13, 4.04 ERA, 94 strikeouts) will pitch for the Lady Tigers.

■ Ore City, which had to win a play-in game on Tuesday to claim the fourth playoff spot in 16-3A, will meet Harmony in a best-of-three series starting at 6 p.m. today and concluding at 6 p.m. on Friday. All games are set for Spring Hill High School’s Lady Panther Field.

Ore City is paced offensively by Tori Pena (.405), Morgan Clawson (.329, 15 RBI), Hannah Pendarvis (.301, 18 RBI) and Cassi Gabaldon (.339). Clawson (9-12, 4.50 ERA, 74 strikeouts) will pitch for the Lady Rebels.

Kinzee Settles (.482, 9 HR, 26 RBI) heads up a balanced Harmony offense that also includes Analese Cano (.470, 26 RBI), Dacy Dawson (.393, 14 RBI), Hope Howard 9.345, 2 HR, 17 RBI), Katelyn Seahorn (.388, 2 HR, 21 RBI), Katelyn Welborn (.392, 3 HR, 20 RBI), Kaylee Clemens (.457, 17 RBI), Marlee Seahorn (.372, 12 RBI) and Tori Hudson (.359, 3 HR, 21 RBI).

Cano (8-4, 2.36 ERA, 44 strikeouts) and Settles (7-1, 2.63 ERA, 86 strikeouts) will handle the pitching for Harmony.

■ Sabine, a 5-23 team a year ago, is 17-10 under first-year coach Molly Mackey. The Lady Cardinals will face Beckville in a best-of-three series starting at 6 p.m. tonight and concluding at 4 p.m. on Saturday at Longview’s Lear Park.

The Lady Cardinals are led offensively by Blaire Kaufman (.444, 10 RBI), Calleigh King (.467, 26 RBI), Genesis Willett (.340, 2 HR, 10 RBI, 17 SB), Makenzie Cook (.431, 2 HR, 21 RBI)and Miranda Cook (HR, 16 RBI) and Sarah Davis (HR, 12 RBI)

Hannah Merritt is 10-5 inside the circle with a 2.49 ERA and 87 strikeouts in 87 innings.

Leading the way for Beckville is Riley Seegers (.375), Shelley Pierce (.450, 20 RBI) and Baley McGuire (.377). Ally LaGrone is 9-13 with 114 strikeouts in 127 innings pitched.

■ West Rusk and Elysian Fields will play a best-of-three series starting at 6 p.m. on Friday and concluding at 1 p.m. on Saturday in Tatum.

Makana Morton leads the way for West Rusk with a .719 average, 11 home runs, 55 RBI and 30 stolen bases. Other top hitters are Sydnee Martin (.464, 24 RBI), Brook Floyd (.500, 3 HR, 23 RBI), Allyson Floyd (.440, 3 HR), Abigayle Hernandez (.481) and Julie Waddell (.469).

Top hitters for Elysian Fields are Bre McGinty (31 RBI), Bri Chandler (.360, 20 RBI), Kayla Evans (.457, 11 SB) and Shayla Mathews (2 HR, 15 RBI). Mathews (10-8, 142 strikeouts) and Holly Holden (3-3) are the top pitchers for Elysian Fields.

■ Hughes Springs will take on Cooper at 8 p.m. on Friday at Northeast Texas Community College in Mount Pleasant in a one-game format.

The Lady Mustangs were 34-4 a year ago, reaching the state semifinals. Hughes Springs’ three losses this year (24-3) have come to No. 1 ranked and unbeaten Class 3A Grandview, No. 2 Class 4A North Lamar and No. 4 Class 4A Robinson.

Hughes Springs is hitting .416 as a teamm with 40 home runs, 48 doubles, nine triples, 313 runs scored and just 69 strikeouts in 862 plate appearances.

The team has a collective 2.06 ERA with 112 strikeouts and 51 walks in 139 innings pitched.

Follow Jack Stallard on Twitter: @lnjsports